Prostitution is often referred to as a victimless crime because it involves two willing participants. The Texas Penal Code section 43.02 treats prostitution as a serious criminal offense for which both participants can be prosecuted for their roles in the criminal activity.
Prostitution Crimes in Houston
Section 43.02 of the Texas Penal Code makes it a crime to offer or to solicit a fee in exchange for the performance of sexual acts. Most people assume that only the person offering to perform sexual acts in exchange for money or other compensation can be charged with committing a crime, but the person patronizing the prostitute by paying for sex can also be charged in Texas for committing a crime. A first offense under section 43.02 of the Texas Penal Code is a Class B misdemeanor. Second and third offenses are Class A misdemeanors, and a third conviction is a state jail felony.
Facilitating or making money from prostitution is also a crime in Texas. Commonly referred to as pimping, promotion of prostitution under Texas Penal Code section 43.03 is agreeing to share in the fees made by another person who engages in an act of prostitution. Promotion of prostitution is a Class A misdemeanor, but prosecutors can charge a person with a felony in the third degree if the evidence establishes that the person engaged in a business exercising control over two or more prostitutes.
Penalties for Prostitution Crimes Violations
Conviction of prostitution and prostitution related crimes in Houston can include fines and jail or prison confinement. Possible penalties include the following:
- Prostitution (first offense) : Up to 6 months in jail and a $2,000 fine
- Prostitution (second and third offense) : Up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine
- Prostitution (fourth offense) : A minimum of 180 days up to a maximum of 2 years in state jail
- Promotion of Prostitution: Up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine
- Aggravated Promotion of Prostitution: A $10,000 fine and two to ten years in prison
Defenses to Prostitution Crimes in Houston
If you have been charged with a prostitution crime in Texas, there are defenses that might be available to you depending upon the facts of the case and the charges filed against you. For example, police frequently use undercover operations to catch prostitutes or those soliciting them. Depending upon the methods used by the undercover police officer, an entrapment defense might be available to prove the accused was persuaded to engage in the illegal behavior.
Consult a Prostitution Crimes Attorney
Prostitution crimes in Houston are serious criminal law violations that can subject a person to fines and possible incarceration if convicted. Criminal defense attorney Justin T. Surginer might be able to help by reviewing the facts of the case to determine if any defenses might exist.